What you see above is a bar of gold.  Or so was the impression a French pâtissier (pastry chef) named Lasne wished to convey when, in the late 1800s, he had baking trays specially made to resemble the shape and size of a bullion ingot. 

After all, Lasne’s shop wasn’t far from the Paris Stock Exchange, and he wanted to create a pastry that would strike his customers’ imaginations like nothing else. Soon enough, the treat Lasne created for those in the financial industry came to named after them too, i.e. financiers.

Indeed, at center in the above detail from Seurat’s celebrated painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, is someone from that era who very well may have been one of those financiers (people).

Anyway, not only are financiers (pastries) shaped like gold, they’re colored like it too, being composed mainly of almond flour. Richness too, as these pastries, in common with so much else the French create, are well-supplied with butter. These bake to a warm (what else?) golden-brown and then are enjoyed unadorned. Or, better yet, common toppings include raspberries and peaches, as illustrated in the lead photo, or almond slivers.

It wasn’t long before Lasne also created smaller, round financiers that could be enjoyed on the go, in two or three bites on the way to (or home from) the Exchange. This is the way they mostly have come through to the modern day, and it’s the format Cook’s Illustrated chose when the recipe appeared in its March & April 2020 issue.

As the above picture illustrates, these pastries are a wonder of contrasting textures, soft and moist on the outside, and lightly crunchy on the outside. Further delights await, as toppings/fillings deliver additional toasty crispness, or a burst of tangy sweetness.

It’s enough to make one feel like a million francs. Three cheers too for Lasne, the ultimate capitalist, who knew just what would enthrall his patrons, and who supplied it in abundance. No matter how the day goes trading stocks and financing things, at least the walk to and from the exchange will be a sweet delight.



(French Almond-Browned Butter Cakes)

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup plus one tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup egg whites (*1)

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375°.  Generously spray a 24-cup mini-muffin tin (*2) with baking spray with flour.    

Place a large saucepan over a medium-high flame. Add the butter to the skillet and cook, stirring and scraping constantly with a rubber spatula, until the milk solids are dark golden-brown, and the butter has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Immediately transfer the butter to a heatproof bowl.

In a second bowl, whisk together the almond flour, sugar, all-purpose flour and salt. Add the egg whites and, using a rubber spatula, stir until combined. Mash any lumps against the side of the bowl until batter is smooth. Stir in butter until incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins until each cup is about half full. If you wish to garnish, lay the topping of choice (raspberries, peach pieces, slivered almonds, etc.) on the surface. Don’t press the topping into the batter, or it will sink to the bottom while cooking. (*3)

Bake until the edges are well browned and the tops are golden, about 14 minutes (*4), rotating muffin tins halfway through baking. Remove tin from the oven and immediately invert a wire rack on top of it. Invert the rack and the tin, then carefully remove the tin. Turn cakes right side up, and allow to cool 20 minutes before serving.


1 – This equals 3 to 4 large eggs. Because eggs are a natural product, their size varies, and so does the amount of whites each will produce. The more important number is the 1/3 cup of egg whites you should have.

2 – A mini-muffin tin? Not in my cupboard, unfortunately. As you can see, though, a regular muffin tin worked well.

So too did miniature bread pans, which, filled 1/4 of the way with batter, produced something similar to what Lasne got from his special tins all those decades ago.

Of course, using regular muffin tins or bread pans will increase the required cooking time, as described in Note 4, below.

3 – Or, you can use the sinking fruit to your advantage, if you desire a filling rather than a topping. As you can see, I did this with the raspberries. I pushed on the first berry until it was half-submerged.

Then, when it came time to rotate the tin, the first berry was nearly covered, and I set another berry on top of it (carefully, though, as everything is piping hot!). At the end this provided a column of sweet excellence, stretching from top to bottom.

4 – Standard-size muffin tins hold more volume, of course, meaning it’ll take longer to cook them. Say, about 16 minutes.

Going a bit further, the miniature bread pans require about 20 minutes. These figures are approximations, though. Watch the cakes carefully toward the end, as they transition quickly from golden-brown and delicious (GBD), to burned. No worries, though if you remain reasonably vigilant.


7 thoughts on “Capital!

  1. I can see the buttery’ness in the photos. I can almost taste the richness and delicate sweetness of these “bars of gold” (although I almost wouldn’t care what color they were if they tasted the same… except green).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tamara! Pity about the green, because you’re missing out on Pistachio Cookies and on Key Lime Cheesecake, for example.

      Now, as for this week’s entry, it’s definitely color-coded, glowing golden in both tone and in flavor. It’s French, and naturally, it’s butter-forward. Makes sense, because Brittany and Normandy, the regions north and northwest of Paris, are France’s dairyland.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Momentary or not, each of our appetites is subject to whim or mood, with the logic sustaining those reservations of varied strength..

        Little matter, as the kitchen is open throughout, with food served through summer 2027. So far, at least.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so kind, Jenn!

      Certainly, you’ll find shops baking financiers, particularly in a city as vast as is L.A. The odds would be best in a place identifying itself as a French bakery (patisserie). There you can ask for financiers by name. A more general bakery still probably will know what they are, or you can describe them – almond flour cakes with fruit being an effective label.

      Liked by 1 person

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